Transparency International welcomes ‘anti-corruption’ emphasis in 2008 EU Enlargement Progress Reports

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat



Transparency International (TI) welcomes the European Commission's emphasis on 'anti-corruption' in its 2008 enlargement strategy and progress reports covering eight countries. TI supports the Commission’s overall critical assessment of the levels of corruption in the countries that aspire to join the EU, and its recognition that modest progress was made in the fight against corruption.

“The little documented progress in the fight against corruption sets a worrying precedent, bringing into question the ability of state institutions to achieve substantive and lasting reforms in all areas,” said Miklos Marschall, Director for Europe and Central Asia at TI.

Covering the progress made over the past 12 months by each candidate and potential candidate country, the reports, published on 5 November, include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia (FYROM), Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

The shortcomings of anti-corruption measures highlighted by the EU echo the analysis of TI national chapters in most countries covered by the reports.

TI is deeply concerned about the high levels of corruption in all EU candidate and potential candidate countries, in particular Macedonia (FYROM), which has EU candidacy status. None of the countries have substantially improved their anti-corruption record. The overarching critical perception displayed in the broad decline of 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index scores among several EU countries are indicative of a need to continue anti-corruption reforms, even after EU membership.

“A European Union that works for its citizens must be free of corruption,” said Jana Mittermaier, Head of the Transparency International Brussels Office. “The fight against corruption in any country which wishes to join the EU is a question of the integrity of the entire European Union, and the right of its citizens to responsive, reliable and fair public institutions.”

In the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EU report highlights a lack of implementation in the country’s anti-corruption strategy and that no progress has been made in the fight against corruption, thus reiterating TI’s assessment in the country. Further, the EU criticised the political pressure recently exerted on TI Bosnia & Herzegovina in the Republika Srpska which forced a temporary closing of the office.

To reduce the possibility of future sanctions on the grounds of corruption, as happened with Bulgaria in July 2008, TI continues to strongly encourage the Commission to increase civil society participation in the pre-accession process. This would enable a more participatory and transparent pre-accession process, and solidify civil society groups’ ability to hold governments to account.

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